League of Women Voters

UX CASE STUDY (Concept Project)

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For nearly a century, the League of Women Voters has prided itself as a non-partisan source of information for voters to make informed decisions, as well as an advocate for legislation affecting government and social reform. 

The Challenge:  To improve engagement on the LWV’s digital platform – to bring a new approach to attracting attention to, and catalyzing action on, their preferred causes.

Scope:  UX, Research, Personas, Information Architecture, Navigation, Content Management.

Deliverables:  Wireframes, User Flows, Prototype.

Team / Time Frame:  Three UX designers, 2-week sprint.

Our Approach:  Redesign the information architecture, navigation, and user journeys on the website to:

  • Welcome and inform new visitors to the site.
  • Support the political education and engagement of voters.
  • Give LWV members a platform to build community and share their passion.
  • Provide a “sticky” experience to engage users and encourage them to action.
  • Allow the League to track interest on topics in line with its mission.
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Starting with a Survey

“Yes, I vote. But … League of Women Who?”

We began by polling nearly 100 voters:

  1. Most indicated an interest in issues important to the LWV, as well as a desire to be more informed about and involved in political issues....
  2. Most turn to online news and social media as their top sources for political information....
  3. But nearly half of them had never heard of the LWV!

Our conclusions:

  • The LWV’s website has the potential to fill a demand, and it's using the right medium,
  • But many new visitors to the LWV's site will not be familiar with the League or its mission,
  • And for those who are already active members, the site should provide intuitive tools to support and spread that mission.

The Existing Site

“It’s like they put 20 additions on this house without ever hiring an architect.”

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Shortcomings of the site are quickly apparent. The home page is typical:

  • No above-the-fold statement about the League or its purpose.
  • Cobbled-together visual design.
  • Navigation is disjointed.
  • Numerous calls to action, but poorly organized and prioritized.
  • Poor visual hierarchy for the information and tasks available.
  • Dense copy.

The same sorts of issues continue throughout the site, leading repeatedly to questions like:

  • What can I find here?
  • How do I get there?
  • Why should I answer this call to action, anyway?
  • How do I find that thing I found here last time?
  • What else is here, hidden away? 
  • How do I get back where I started?

User Personas

“Who I am, and what’s important to me.”

Based on the League’s mission, research into their membership, and interviews at a LWV event, we created three personas to help us envision the people who come to the site and how to support their needs.

An important lesson was that much of the League’s activity, and appeal, happens in real-life activities. Also, state and local chapters have their own websites, so our focus should be on the national presence and serving, in turn, the other chapters.

 
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First Time Visitor

"I want to learn to be part of the discussion."

Sarah Escudero

Age: 20
Student at a trade school
Youngstown, OH
Inspiration: Dakota Pipeline protests

Needs: To learn enough to cast an informed vote in the upcoming election, without getting overwhelmed.

 

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Occasional Visitor;
4-Year Member

"I want to help shape the political landscape – so it's better for my kids."

Maxine Robbins

Age: 35
Corporate attorney
Menlo Park, CA
Inspiration: Hillary Rodham Clinton's child-advocacy work.

Needs: Information on legislation and court rulings; place to upload her own position papers. 

 

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Long-Time Member and Mentor

"I want people to know my story. And I'd love to help them share theirs."

Barbara Halpern

Age: 63
Former schoolteacher; homemaker, volunteer
Chapel Hill, NC
Inspiration: Eleanor Roosevelt's civil-rights activism.

Needs: Updates on League leadership and national events; place to share her experience; easy flow to chapter site.


Comparative Analysis

“Who gets it right?”

Our comparative analysis of voter advocacy groups, non-profits, and political blogs found that the most effective ones:

  • Keep it simple up front
  • Announce their purpose, establish their brand
  • Offer clear calls to action
  • Integrate social media
  • Have a rational format and navigation
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Design Development

Sketching and Testing

All three of us contributed to research, analysis, sketching, and prototyping. Throughout the process, testing steered us to shape our priorities for the site, maintain its tone, clarify its navigation, refine its nomenclature, and support taking action.


Typical Wireframes

 

HEADER

Simple, clear format and navigation that will now be consistent across the site. Our decisions were reinforced by card sorts, iterations, and usability testing. 

  • A motto and social-media now appear on every page.
  • Account sign-in so people can add their own stories and comment on posts.
  • Tabs and drop-down menus now group topics logically.
  • Created “Voting” category with new visitors in mind.

Home Page (left)

  • Prominent expression of “Who We Are”.
  • Focus on timely issues and LWV causes.
  • Instagram feed; constantly updates; features different LWV chapters.
  • Interactive map for finding state and local chapters.
  • Cutting down on jargon in text.

News Feed (Right)

  • Tabs that auto-filter news.
  • Tags to promote conversations, awareness, research.
  • Social media integration and statistics on every story.
  • Tracking of “shares” to foster community, gauge interest, demonstrate site’s reach.

Next Directions

We believe that our redesign:

  • Provides new users with ready access to the League's purpose and its information on issues. 
  • Gives League members an opportunity to engage more deeply with issues and with each other, and to more readily take action on those issues. 
  • Allows League and policy makers to track users' interests and action, and thus measure the League's influence and success.

Some thoughts for the next stage:

  • Conduct further user testing, at various stages, to confirm that navigation functions and paths support the information architecture and user needs.
  • Provide more opportunities for members to customize their experience.
  • Clarify the LWV's dual roles of non-partisan voter information (LWV of the United States) as well as advocacy on government and social-reform legislation (LWV Education Fund).
  • Consider establishing consistent design standards and URLs for the websites for state and local chapters.